The term “Web3” is used to describe the profound changes currently taking place in the World Wide Web. With the change from Web1 to Web2, a similar caesura already took place at the turn of the millennium. However, while this primarily focused on the user as content creator, the web3 is developing into a decentralised ecosystem that is closely networked with the analogue world. The technological basis for this is provided by blockchain technology. Companies and users alike benefit from this development.
- Users currently have no choice but to hand over personal data if they want to use services on the internet.
- Web2 has created huge data silos that are owned by a few companies.
- The Web3 is now giving users back control over their data.
- This is done on the basis of blockchain technology
What was the main idea behind Web1?
The commercialisation of the internet began in the early 1990s. With the development of the first graphics-capable web browsers, companies discovered the Web1 for themselves, but what was on offer on the World Wide Web was very different from what it is today. Websites were nothing more than digital business cards. The pages were static, had no interactive elements and did not allow any interaction with the users. Later, the first online mail order companies developed, but in the end, the user remained only a consumer.
Development to Web2
With the turn of the millennium, the structure of the internet changed fundamentally. Users not only consumed, but began to produce content themselves. New social networks like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn became popular and gave their users the opportunity to interact and present themselves. Video platforms like YouTube followed and blogs received more and more attention. Thus, the static content of the web1 gave way to more dynamic forms of communication. Even companies whose website previously served only as a business card now use the new possibilities to interact with their visitors. Web2 has brought users more into focus. However, this development has brought with it some downsides.
The problems of Web2
The emergence of new social networks such as YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Co. offers both users and companies significant added value compared to Web1. While companies are closer to their customers and can interact with them better, users have come to appreciate the communicative aspects. However, data protection concerns have overshadowed the former euphoria for many years. Almost everywhere, users have to disclose personal data if they want to use services. Credit card information and sensitive biographical data are given away.
The operators of these sites are accumulating an uncontrollable treasure trove of data. The resulting digital identities are stored in central databases by a few internet giants like Google, Facebook or Apple. Further processing or even the sale of one’s own data remains hidden from the individual user. Furthermore, the systems of the tech giants are closed systems. Logging in with the Google ID remains impossible with Apple services and vice versa.
The difference between Web3 and Web2
This development has led to a desire for more anonymity and security among users. This has resulted in legal amendments such as the General Data Protection Regulation, which, however, has its limits. At the same time, many companies have realised that closed digital ecosystems inhibit growth. In Web3, both of these problems are solved with the help of blockchain technology and self-sovereign identity (SSI). Digital identities no longer have to be stored centrally at companies, but remain decentralised with the user. Encrypted certificates are stored within the blockchain, which are transmitted by the user as needed for identification. With Web3, the centralised identity is replaced by the decentralised identity. In this way, users are given back control over their data, but companies also benefit from the new technology.
What are the advantages of Web3 for society and the user?
The decentralisation of the digital self is the most important argument for SSI from the user’s point of view. In addition, a networking of the analogue with the digital sphere of life is taking place. This change is part of the ongoing digital transformation and makes it possible, for example, to use the digital identity of the web3 in the analogue world as well. Instead of depositing a driver’s licence and ID card with the car rental company, the necessary certificates from the blockchain are sufficient. In the same way, certificates such as a monthly ticket for local public transport can be stored in the blockchain.